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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review - Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

About The Book:

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself “Mr. Knightley”) offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

Purchase a copy here.

My Thoughts:

At first, when I picked up "Dear Mr. Knightley" to read, I thought this would be another Jane Austen-themed story filled with angst and emotions and sought-after romance. And I was right - there is a lot of angst and emotion in this story, as well as a romance that seems doomed from the start, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this debut novel is so much more than all that.

This is a fascinating story of Samantha Moore, a young woman, who has aged-out of foster care and has set out to prove herself to the world. With a generous grant from a mysterious benefactor, known to her only as "Mr. Knightley," a character's name from her beloved Jane Austen stories," Samantha returns to college to earn her graduate's degree in journalism, a subject she would have never chosen for herself. As she struggles with the new life she finds herself in, Samantha also has a season of discovering what a strong and confident woman she has been hiding behind her books.

Katherine Reay does a magnificent job of bringing her readers a complex, but enchanting story that pulls the readers into the heart of the action and tugs on their heart strings as well. Reay's characters are so warm and personable that you feel that you've known them for ages. And the sweet romance that weaves through the story is so uplifting, even when it's frustrating for the characters. Readers will root for a happy ending, and they won't be disappointed.

I highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys a excellent contemporary women's fiction with a bit of romance, a dash of mystery, and a great deal of fun involved.  (Jane Austen fans will get a kick out of the repeated references throughout the book by character Samantha - she's an super-Austen-fan!)

About The Author:

Katherine Reay
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

Learn more at Katherine’s website.

My thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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